The biggest threat to humanity’s existence is not a person nor a place. Donald Trump, China, Russia, they may exacerbate our many problems, but they are not the cause. After decades of warnings, you still seldom hear the words Climate Change on mainstream news networks. Even as Western wildfires turn the skies red across the coast it hardly warrants a mention, but Joe Biden is trying to change that.

As wildfires devastate the western states of California, Oregon, and Washington state, Joe Biden, somewhat surprisingly connected the blazes to the global climate emergency and slammed President Donald Trump’s continuing refusal to act.

In statement on Saturday, Biden said “The science is clear, and deadly signs like these are unmistakable—climate change poses an imminent, existential threat to our way of life. President Trump can try to deny that reality, but the facts are undeniable.” He continued, “we absolutely must act now to avoid a future defined by an unending barrage of tragedies like the one American families are enduring across the West today.”

“Left unchecked, wildfires, and other extreme weather disasters will only continue to grow in frequency and intensity, endangering the lives of tens of millions of Americans, ravaging our lands and waterways, rendering the air unbreathable, and laying waste to our economic security,” Biden said. “In the years ahead, there will be no challenge more consequential to our future than meeting and defeating the onrushing climate crisis.”

Biden’s statement had to be said. Fifty odd days before the election, avoiding the devastation of the Western wildfires and their root causes would have been a failure of leadership akin to Donald Trump. Playing up Climate Change is also a winning strategy. Support for action on Climate Change is growing among swing state voters.

The Sunrise Movement tweeted in response to Biden’s statement. “Biden and Harris should be repeating this message every hour of every day.”

Biden’s checkered past, however, leaves many progressives and climate activists wondering if he is serious or just playing politics again. This is the man who has described the Green New Deal as “a crucial framework,” which it is, but he has yet to fully back said framework.

When Joe Biden was VP, Barack Obama presided over the biggest increase in oil production in American history. That’s a fact. It happened in large part thanks to the expansion of hydraulic fracturing which now accounts for half of all U.S. oil output. Despite what the Trump Campaign might suggest, Biden is not going to ban fracking.

Biden, during the Democratic primary, pledged to end fossil fuel subsidies, but the promise was since dropped from the party platform right before the Democratic Convention. I would appear Biden has been all over the Climate Change map.

To his credit, Joe Biden has unveiled a $2 trillion green energy plan in which he gets a lot right. However, climate campaigners have called it a welcome, but insufficient, step in the right direction. It may seem like a major investment, and it is, but don’t forget the United States’ GDP is over $20 trillion.

I believe Biden has yet to grasp that combating Climate Change sufficiently means changing the system. As Greta Thunberg has said, change the system, not the climate. That kind of change, however, is something Joe is incapable of carrying out on his own.

Where Biden steers the country on Climate Change should he win the White House is anybody’s guess. The only thing we know for sure is that Climate activists, progressives and liberals will need to pressure President Biden and other conservative or moderates Democrats every minute of every day on the consequences of not going all in.

Let us hope, at the very least, that Biden keeps an open ear and an open mind. Despite going in reverse for the last four years, Climate Change remains the most important issue of our lifetime. The Western wildfires are a major reminder of that fact. If we hold him accountable, above all other outside influences, we could turn Biden into sleepless Joe on Climate action.

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